'No cancer risk in plastic bottles'
Mothers in the UK have been reassured over claims that a chemical in plastic water bottles may be linked to cancer.
US scientists found that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) in the womb increased the risk of later prostate cancer in offspring mice.
BPA is widely used around the world in the manufacture of plastic bottles and soup cans. But the Natural Hydration Council pointed out that the chemical is not found in plastic bottles containing naturally sourced water in the UK.
A spokesman said: "In the UK, the plastic bottles used to contain naturally sourced water are made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) which do not contain BPA and are the best plastic material available for this purpose and meets all EU and UK safety requirements."
BPA is also banned from baby feeding bottles in the UK and EU.
The chemical is an "endocrine disrupter" which can interfere with hormones in the body.
Exposure to BPA in the womb appears to sensitise immature prostate cells to the female hormone oestrogen. This sensitivity is passed on to adult prostate tissue, say the scientists.
Lead researcher Professor Gail Prins, from the University of Illinois in the US, said: "This is the first direct evidence that exposure to BPA during development, at levels we see in our day-to-day environment, increases the risk for prostate cancer in human prostate tissue."
Prostate cancer is fuelled by increased oestrogen levels as well as testosterone, it is believed.
The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Francisco, US.